Saturday, February 27, 2010

Arizona Skies

After Mexico, we headed north to Arizona to pause and reflect on our travels.  The "pause" that refreshed us was in Tucson and it was a quiet time for us.  A very small number of people from the Mexico rally also made their way back to the Pima County Fairgrounds.  This was our launching point and a good place to stay for a brief respite from the road.  
Some of the mountains surrounding Tucson are snow-capped at this time of the year.  The weather, however, is some of the best that Arizona has to offer.  We enjoyed sunny days and cool nights.  The sunsets each evening never failed to entertain and Arizona's reputation for great sunsets and evening skies remains intact with us. 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Hasta la Vista Mexico!

Friday morning found us awake bright and early and ready to hit the road heading north.  Visiting Mexico was a real adventure for us, but we had been stretched enough for now.  Life without cell phones, internet access and an electrical hook-up ("long story not worth telling") was starting to wear on us and we felt the need to get back to our work.  (Or maybe it's just the lure of being "on the road again..........)

What did we learn on our Mexican adventure?  A lot!

We learned that no matter whether they're called topes or speedbumps, they matter to our rig.  We learned to hate them even more than we already did.

We learned that it's far easier to travel by ourselves than it is to be a part of a large group heading down the road.  This lesson was not an encouragement to us as we consider our future in the greater Exodus that we believe is coming soon.  We found ourselves deeply considering the difference between being a sheep and a shepherd.  We were able to sympathize with the "sheep" even as we relate to the challenges of being a shepherd.  

We learned that no matter how much you prepare for the unexpected, the unexpected will find you out in however you're not prepared.  We'd gone to great lengths to prepare for less than favorable electrical hook-ups in Mexico.  We had no idea as to how unfavorable our connection was going to turn out to be.  The site that DannyLee was directed to squeeze our 38' "Nest" into didn't have an electrical hook-up and we didn't have any way of getting out of that space once we'd gotten in there.  Fortunately our solar set-up and the bright sunny days of Mexico along with two tanks of propane saw us through this dilemma.  

We learned that "angels" come in many colors - even my favorite, green!  This is a "green angel" that appeared just ahead of us at the military checkpoint.  We'd been given dire warnings about how the military check would be intense and thorough.  The line prior to even reaching the checkpoint stretched for miles lined with armed soldiers and semis that appeared to have been there for hours.  We approached all of this with a bit of trepidation only to have the soldier on duty in our lane wave us through with a big smile and some funny efforts at communicating with us by shouting "Big Horn" at us a couple of times as we repeated it back to him.  Our experience at the U.S. border wasn't all that different and we felt that our prayers for favor in all of this were heard.

We learned that our camera has a built-in funny bone.  During the dancing in Hermosillo, DannyLee was invited to come up on the stage by one of the lovely young dancers to take a spin with her.  At that exact moment, the up-till-then perfectly functioning camera decided that it needed some kind of technical attention causing me to miss that photo op.  Grrr.............

One lesson that really reached into my heart on this trip is something I hope I never forget.  I have the perfect life and the perfect man in my life for me.  I have always loved to travel and yet I've never been all that keen on hotel rooms.  There's no better place to sleep than in my own bed with my own bathroom close at hand.  The RV life is the life for me as I get to have the best of both and my darling DannyLee is always excited about hitting the road with me to see what's just over that next hill.  Even better than that, he loves to drive so I get to sit back, take pictures along the way and feed him all the snacks he can eat.  It doesn't get any better than this!  Thank YOU FATHER YHVH!!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Entertained or Entertaining?

Our last day in Kino Bay turned into a musical interlude.  One of the locals stopped by as we were preparing to head north to share some of his music with DannyLee.  He pulled his guitar out of his trunk and played some of his compositions for us.  Danny pulled out his guitar and shared a song with him too.  The atmosphere in Kino must be conducive to making music.  DannyLee was able to write the words to a new song while we were there.  I think it will be a hit! 
Ken told us that the summers in Mexico were too hot to go outside so he spent all of his time inside perfecting his guitar strumming and picking.  We'd say it was time well spent.  He has a lovely style of music.  He played several songs for us and then invited us to come and stay at his house there in Kino Bay anytime we wanted.

We ended our last day in Kino Bay with a Johnny Cash appearance and some fun karaoke performances.  DannyLee had a great time singing his favorites for the Escapee's crowd and some of the local supporters.  The restaurant owner, Jorge, that provided the food for dinner, joined in with his guitar and a few songs while I got to play "human mikestand".  Hmmmm.........

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dancing in Hermosillo

The local high school students were invited to put on a show for our group tour.  The dances ranged from the more modern type dresses shown here to the traditional dresses shown below.  The guys had a much easier time of it as they didn't have to do all of the costume changes that the gals had to do.  It was a real treat for all of us.  Their smiles lit up the stage!


Monday, February 22, 2010

Playing "Tourista"

Going to Mexico couldn't be all about just hanging out at the beach so we signed up for a bus tour of Hermosillo that was arranged by the Escapee's Chapter 8 - Mexican Connection.  While this isn't normally our idea of a fun way to spend a day, it was a nice change of pace for both of us.  Here's DannyLee trying to look happy at the Governor's Palace.  Don't worry things are going to get better much sooner than he thinks.  He has no idea of what comes next here!

It was a beautiful day to be out and about and our tour began in the square.  Our tour guides were bright and enthusiastic and their English was fun.  There were 119 people in our group so we were divided into four smaller groups and stuck with stickers.  The locals were warm and friendly and made us all feel very welcome.  We were in the "orange" group and our tour guide was Violetta.  The local vendors plied us with food and we finally opted for some warm pumpkin empanadas.  What a treat!   

Saturday, February 20, 2010

"The Beach! The Beach!"

Presenting the Sea of Cortez! 

As it is known to the locals, the Sea of Cortez is a delight to the eyes after miles and miles of cacti and scrub and desert sand littered with the trash and wastelands of junk and junkyards that line the highways and byways of Mexico.  The shoreline is clean and free of trash and is a treasure trove for shells for those so inclined.  It was a joy to finally arrive at our destination.
Kino Bay RV Trailer Park

This was our final destination in our travels south of the border.  Many others in the group had plans to head even further south after the rally, but we had other things calling us back.  To the left of the Kino Bay sign, you can see the road sign for the dreaded "topes".  Miss that sign and you could find yourself catching some "air" by mistake.  They had a reason for instilling great fear.  I have to confess that DannyLee missed a couple and we weren't too happy about it.  Fortunately, the worst thing that happened was that a couple of pictures fell off the walls. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Are We There Yet?

Our destination was ultimately in Bahia de Kino, but somehow, lunch got in the way.  This beautiful restaurant wasn't actually open for business yet, but the arrival of our group changed that quickly.  The staff hurried to pull together some tables for our group and we scanned the menu as our tummies growled.
Feeling somewhat elated with the successful passage around the main town of Hermosillo, we were happy to take a break from the driving and just relax.  The food was delightful.  DannyLee enjoyed a chicken steak with mango sauce while I opted for the chicken with tamarind sauce.  More thoughts and memories of Thailand and the joy of tropical fruits came to mind.  The best part of the meal was the warm soft tortillas that none of us could resist.  YUM!
This is the fire pit where all of the meats are slow-roasted next to a mesquite fire. 

This is the main entrance of the restaurant.  I confess that I didn't actually figure out the name of the place.  I can tell you that it was on Hwy. 80 just west of Hermosillo.  

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Benjamin Hill, Sonora

This is normally a soccer field in Benjamin Hill.  The town prepared for our arrival by clearing it for our use.
With 69 rigs ranging from Class "A"s to travel trailers, it looked more like an RV dealer's lot.  We tried to make some "guess-timates" as to the value sitting in that field, but we'll never know how close we got to the truth.

These are the "Green Angels" plus one DannyLee, former security officer.  The "Green Angels" are funded by the Mexican Department of Tourism to provide roadside assistance to tourists.  They graciously offered to escort the Escapee's Mexican Connection rally participants through various legs of our trip.  Their presence was greatly appreciated as we navigated the unfamiliar roads and the dreaded "TOPES".  Their friendly faces and green and white trucks were a welcome sight throughout our travels in the state of Sonora.  

Traveling in Mexico often brought tears to my eyes as it has much in common with my beloved Thailand.  The poverty of the people, the crazy constructions of corrugate and plywood and the menagerie of animals that were found alongside the roads were all familiar sights to me.  Vendors hawked goods alongside the roads and gathered at the main "topes" in the villages to besiege the drivers with all sorts of products unknown to us.

While DannyLee was trying to ease his way over the large speedbumps known as "topes" and the smaller ones called "vibratoes", he also had to deal with people trying to sell him stuff.  Needless to say, his patience got a little thin with this at times.  I'm not sure what the wisdom is in having such things in the road, but it didn't add to our enjoyment in any way.  Instead of making us want to stop and check out the smaller villages, it made us want to hurry up and just get through them and get away.  I'm sure that this isn't their intention.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

No Turning Back!

Morning comes quickly on the days that we're not quite ready for and this morning was no exception.  We'd done all that we could to prepare for pulling out in the early  morning hours the night before so there was nothing left to do but pull in our sliders and get in line with the rest of the "F" Troop.  The irony was that even though we were the "F" Troop with a later scheduled time to head out, we got switched with the "B" Troop and an earlier start.  This could only happen to a group that had more than one "sleepyhead" on board.  

This was going to be a day of interesting challenges as we faced trying to drive as a part of a convoy, using a CB radio for "convoy communications" and crossing an international border.  We had no idea of just how challenging this was going to be.  It might seem easy to play "follow the leader", but it gets complicated real fast in morning traffic with a variety of rigs ranging from Class "A"s down to Class "C's and travel trailers.  DannyLee had a real struggle trying to maintain a fuel-efficient speed with the ups and downs of hilly roads and the capriciousness of our traveling companions.  Our truck's transmission was getting a real workout. 

Adding to the challenge was our inexperience with our new CB radio.  DannyLee was schooled in the "lip-to-mike" technique of his "taxi-driver" days while I struggled with basic "mike shyness".  After a few minutes of watching DannyLee wander all over his lane while trying to fuss with the CB, my shyness dissipated and I took over the radio.  Problems with using the CB's to communicate from rig to rig plagued us throughout the trip and we were happy to turn it off after arriving in Benjamin Hill, Sonora.  

Our group leaders, Jim and Cynthia Ponder were experienced at traveling in Mexico and tried to share various roadside interests as we traveled along.  One idea that they thought we would enjoy was a brief respite from the toll road to travel through the small town of Magdelena.  Our jaunt coincided with the after school rush of parents and children trying to make their way home and quickly became more of an ordeal for us in our larger size and inexperience.  Traffic lights and markings are somewhat hard to see and inconsistent and small towns are rife with the dreaded "topes".  (More about those later)

We were exhausted after our first day of traveling in Mexico.  When we arrived in Benjamin Hill to stop for the night, both of us just crawled into bed and crashed.  The locals had arranged a meal and entertainment for our entourage, but neither of us could muster the strength to face anything more that day.  We figured with all the people that our absence wouldn't be noticed by anyone anyway.  Sleep claimed us and that night I had a very strange dream.  

I dreamed that I woke up in the morning and our rig was sitting all alone in the midst of a vast empty parking lot.  There was a moment of fear and I woke up and hurried to look out of the window.  We don't use any kind of alarm clock and it's never really mattered as many RV'ers wake up early to hit the road and we generally "hear them off".  As I looked out the window, I was startled to see that the first couple of rows of rigs had already hit the road that morning and we were only one row away from leaving ourselves.  I "shouted out" DannyLee and we hopped in our clothes to get ready to go.  Just in time! 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Viva La Mexico!

Today we headed across the border on a "visa run".  This bleak passage from the U.S. to Mexico looks rather dreary and unwelcoming at first.  This was erased with our first encounter with the Mexican border guards.  Reading the signs on the side of our truck, they gathered around with excitement to ask DannyLee about his alter-ego "Johnny Cash".  Each of them had a favorite song or comment about the "Man in Black". 
One man was asking us about his favorite JC song  "Ballad of Barbara".  DannyLee had to confess that this wasn't one that he was familiar with even as we wondered whether or not this would somehow disqualify us from entering Mexico.  No worries!  They warmly welcomed us to continue on our way with a friendly reminder that this was a very good song to know for future reference.  The rest of our group had gone on ahead probably wondering if we had somehow run afoul of the authorities.  We caught up with them at KM21 and laughing, filled them in on our first encounter with Mexico.  "Johnny Cash" was to follow us south as we would soon find out.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Preparing for a "Run for the Border"

There have been a few times in this "new life" of ours when we've wondered just what we were thinking as we've found ourselves facing unfamiliar territory without a clue as to how we'd gotten this idea in the first place.  It was now time to check in for the pre-Mexico rally at Pima County Fairgrounds in Tucson.  The option of turning back was quickly fading from our list of things to do. 
Despite all of the preparations we'd made for this trip in the previous month, we were both wondering if we were really ready for such an adventure.  It wasn't so much the Mexico part.  It was more about bringing everything that we owned along with us.  RV life isn't like trying to figure out just what to put or not to put in your suitcase.  All that we have goes everywhere we go.  That can be a little more complicated when crossing international borders with all their strange rules and regulations.  Add to that the complications of running a business from your "home" and it can be a little more stressful than we'd thought it would be for us.  

Joining up with the Escapee's Chapter 8 -  Mexican Connection for a rally/road trip to Mexico seemed like a good way to learn about caravaning and going to Mexico at the same time.  Lots of RV'ers winter in Mexico and with the warm weather being a little scarce here in the U.S., the idea of a warm, sunny beach seemed like fun.  The Mexican Connection isn't just about beaches, however.  They put a lot of effort into supporting local charities that put money and resources right into the hands of people doing things to help other people - not into charities that exist primarily to collect money.  This is real "hands-on/face-to-face" people helping people and you can see real results. 

We'd been provided with tons of pre-trip checklists for our truck, RV, insurance, road conditions, travel advisories in Mexico and so on to the point of being overwhelmed.  We'd had the "Nest" serviced, and checked, the wheels, brakes, axles gone over and the tires rotated on the truck.  We bought Mexican insurance and a surge protector device and stocked up with lots of bottled water and our favorite foods.  

When we finally got to the point where there was nothing left to do but go, we found ourselves still wondering if this was a good idea or not.  The "fear factor" was fully at work in trying to convince us otherwise.  The 16th of February was scheduled for our little group to run down to the border to get our visas and exchange our dollars for pesos.  The next day we would be heading south in small groups of 6 to 8 rigs.  There was a total of 69 rigs that had come together for this event.  We headed to bed for a restless night of non-sleep.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Roadside Attractions

One of the first rest stops that we come to as we enter Arizona has some very unusual rock formations.  You might think that this would be a good reason to stop and take some pictures, but the truth is that roadside attractions aren't always in the "nature" of what one would like to think.  Sometimes it's just a case of when you've got to go, you've got to go!  I, on the other hand, much prefer the comfort of my own "facilities" as they're never more than a quick dash from the door of the truck to the door of our "Nest".  I think that this is just a "girl-thing".  The only downside is that trying to get the steps down in a hurry leads to lots of broken fingernails.  Oh well............

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Westward Bound

Today we left Hondo, TX and headed west.  It didn't take us long to get back to I-10 and we soon found ourselves on the same route we'd traveled on our maiden voyage back in June 2009.  This trip, however, was focused in a very different direction.  We're off to Mexico in a few more days! 

The road conditions were definitely better this second time around, but "global warming" left us with grim prospects for long, cold nights if we boondocked so we opted to overnight at an RV park in Van Horn with a full hook-up.  It seemed like a good idea until we got up the next morning to a very cold start and a dead battery on the truck. Our truck is NOT a lover of cold weather.  Good thing we're heading west.  We heard that Dallas got a foot of snow just after we left Texas.  Hmmmm..............

A local gave DannyLee a ride to a nearby service station (and I mean very "nearby" as in less than a quarter-mile away!) where the mechanic was happy to come out and give us a jump-start at a cost of $115.  While we were grateful to get back on the road again, this "kindness" left us with a bit of a bad taste in our mouths.  Our little "sparky" device which has been a big help in the past wasn't able to save us this time. 

We made a brief stop in Lordsburg, N.M. at the Flying "J" station.  This is the first place that we stayed when we left Texas back in June 2009.  It was the first of many nights that we've spent either in Flying "J"s, "Wally Worlds" or Love's parking lots in our travels.  It sure beats the high cost of hotels/motels and roadside "dives".  While breakfast isn't free at the Flying "J", it's well worth the cost in the morning.  We certainly appreciate the businesses that allow us to park overnight in their parking lots and we always seek to support them with our business.  DannyLee plans all of our traveling and stops with them in mind. 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Introducing "Torah-morphosis - Transforming a life by His Word

I would like to introduce to our dear readers my first efforts at my own personal story/book.  I've worked with other authors as an editor, and spent many years writing for myself.  The growing interest in blogging has fueled my interest in sharing my writings with others.  My experiences here on our Tsiyon Bound blog have been very satisfying as we have readers worldwide with some of them returning regularly.

It was my intention to share my story of how Torah changed my life in a book.  However, as we solidly believe that we are coming very close to the return of our King, the time for such things is quickly coming to an end.  And I believe that my experiences in pursuing a Torah-life will be helpful to anyone else desiring to have a living, satifying relationship with Yeshua our Messiah.

Therefore, I introduce to you my newest blogsite "Torah-morphosis - Transforming a life by His Word".  I chose the theme of butterflies as nothing illustrates the process of transforming from something lowly and ofttimes quite ugly better than butterflies and caterpillars.  This is a work in progress so please be patient as I finish writing up the last few chapters.  I pray that you will be blessed as you share in my trials of transformation.